Going Legal with E-mail Archiving

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Due to a numbers of factors ranging from compliance to legal issues, e-mail archiving costs are spiraling upward.

One contributor is the vast increase in corporate litigation. As a result, the need to provide e-mail information in support of legal cases has resulted in a whole new market. This encompasses a range of tools to manage and dig through a mountain of e-mails and unstructured data known as electronic discovery services (EDS). And it’s big business. EDS consultants are expected to bill $1.1 billion this year alone.

“Electronic discovery is more important and more visible than five years ago because it has proven to be an effective and valuable tool to surface evidence that has been pivotal in many of the highest-profile corporate malfeasance cases in recent years,” said Cliff Dutton, executive vice president and chief technology officer at EDS provider IBIS Consulting Inc., based in Providence, R.I.

Improving Electronic Discovery

IBIS utilizes an array of storage tools to achieve its results. It restores backed-up data or uses current file stores as the starting point. A copy is made of all source media to protect the original evidence and support a chain-of-custody management process. It then indexes all of the data in a proprietary data structure before extracting and indexing all of the contents, including metadata, of each data container. At that stage, searching and filtering can be done to establish a smaller responsive data set that can be loaded into a third-party document review system. The indexing, filtering, and converting code is Ibis code.

“We have a parallel array of servers that are controlled by operators via a dedicated network,” said Dutton. “The processing array is connected through a virtualization switch to a large BlueArc storage array.”

The company uses BlueArc Titan and Si8900 Silicon Servers for near-line speed access to disk and ease of administration.

“The Titan 4K block size helps us pack more files into the same space, and the administrative instrumentation of free disk array gives us comfort and confidence that we can respond to any conditions,” said Dutton.

Titan SiliconServer offers performance in the 5 to 20 Gbps range and scales up to 256 terabytes. The system’s multi-tiered storage feature allows a mix and match of Fibre Channel disk drives and ATA drives with performance rates as high as 50,000 operations per second within a single file system. The system harnesses the proprietary BlueArc OS, which is compatible with existing standards, including CIFS, and NFS for file sharing across Windows and UNIX networks, as well as iSCSI.

“Titan’s ability to scale storage and individual volumes into the hundreds of terabytes is 16 times higher than that of any comparable storage device on the market today,” claims Steve Daheb, BlueArc’s vice president of marketing.

The basic idea is to simplify management by enabling customers to move or copy data through hardware from one storage tier to another without impacting the network or activity through latency. In addition, Remote Data Acceleration technology allows for remote office data to be consolidated into the same central data pool.

This technology makes the process of electronic discovery much faster, simpler and more efficient.

“Titan solved problems we were experiencing with throughput, administrative burden, stability and scalability,” said Dutton.

He notes, however, that storage alone is not enough to solve any and all EDS issues. That’s why the company is looking into the evolving field of information lifecycle management with interest.

“Discovery is a potential component of the lifecycle of any piece of information,” said Dutton. “Further, discovery must be taken into account in storage and information management system design.”

More Lawyers, More Storage

EDS is already a significant slice of the ever-growing legal pie. Two factors are contributing to its expansion: the storage explosion has led to massive repositories of e-mail, instant messaging and application files to wade through in order to find any incriminating evidence; and recent legislation such as Sarbanes-Oxley has upped the ante in terms of corporate data retention and accountability.

“In regulated industries, document retention policies are board-level policies, and it is a federal crime to destroy documents, including e-mail, in anticipation of litigation,” said Dutton. “Companies and their boards must have policies and practices that retain all required electronic documents. They must be stored, so the implication for storage systems is tremendous.”

Article courtesy of Enterprise IT Planet

Drew Robb
Drew Robb
Drew Robb is a contributing writer for Datamation, Enterprise Storage Forum, eSecurity Planet, Channel Insider, and eWeek. He has been reporting on all areas of IT for more than 25 years. He has a degree from the University of Strathclyde UK (USUK), and lives in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.

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